The greatest pastry recipe of all time comes from north-western France. Simple ingredients, easy technique, and a joy to master.
- 18g dried instant yeast
- 20g plain flour
- 600g bakers flour (min.12% protein)
- 40g caster sugar
- 8g bread improver (diastatic malt included)
- 50g unsalted butter, softened
- 12g fine salt
- 350g cultured salted butter
- 330g granulated sugar
- 60g Demerara sugar
1 Preheat oven to 200°C. Combine the yeast and plain flour with 50ml water in a small bowl, then set aside for 10 minutes, until foamy.
2 Mix with the bakers flour, caster sugar, bread improver and 350ml water in the bowl of an electric mixer then mix with the dough hook on low speed for 5 minutes, until smooth. Add the unsalted butter and salt, then continue mixing for a further 5 minutes. Transfer to the bench and knead by hand for 5 minutes, then place in an oiled bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours to rise slowly.
3 Slice the butter 1cm thick, then arrange on baking paper to make a rectangle 27cm x 17cm. Chill until firm. Rill out the dough to form a 35cm square, then place the butter along one edge. Fold the exposed dough over (it will cover half the butter), then fold gain to create three layers of dough enclosing two layers of butter.
4 Roll out to a 75cm x 40cm rectangle, scatter with 110g granulated sugar, then fold one short end over to meet one-third of the way down the dough and fold the other edge over to create a three-layered piece. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
5 Roll out to a 65cm x 40cm rectangle, scatter with 110g granulated sugar, then fold again as in step 4.
6 Repeat step 5 using the final sugar. Roll out to a 60cm x 30cm rectangle, then divide into two even pieces. Fold the corner of each inwards, then place in an oiled 24cm springform cake tin. Cover and allow to rise for 2 hours, until doubled in size.
7 Scatter with the Demerara sugar, then bake for 20 minutes, beginning with a generous misting of water, then reduce the heat to 180°C and bake for a further 25-30 minuets, until well-browned, deeply caramelised and crunchy to touch. Unmould while still warm, then cool on a wire rack.